[box cover]

The Dark Corner

For Bradford Galt (Mark Stevens), life has been unkind. He spent a couple years in jail because his ex-partner Tony Jardine (Kurt Kruger) set him up, and now is trying to return to his old profession. But he finds himself haunted by a man in a white suit (William Bendix) — when Galt finally corners the man he beats a story out of him: He was hired by Jardine. And when a car almost hits him a couple days later, Galt decides to confront his old partner. A tussle ensues, and the cops are called, but a day later his old partner turns up dead, leaving Galt the prime suspect. The only person on his side is his new secretary Kathleen (Lucille Ball), who quickly falls for him and tries to help him out of their jam. What is remarkable about Henry Hathaway's The Dark Corner (1946) is how perfectly noir its concept is: Galt is simply a pawn in a much larger game conducted by Hardy Cathcart (Clifton Webb, oozing the sinister politeness he exemplified in Laura). Hardy's wife Mari (Cathy Downs) has been carrying on with Jardine, and Hardy loves her too much to let her go, so he finds in Galt the perfect patsy and uses Bendix to steer Galt to Jardine. As such, Galt is never in control of his own situation — not even in the film's resolution does he get to be an active participant, only a man caught in the middle of a game he doesn't understand. That's not to say he's a passive character, he is — as he says — "backed up in a dark corner, and I don't know who's hitting me." As such, he's a classic example of a noir archetype. It's interesting to note that, though Lucille Ball is top billed, the picture is more of an ensemble piece. Her plucky heroine gets in a few clever quips, but those looking for early examples of the "I Love Lucy" star's wit may be left disappointed. Director Hathaway (a modest talent) does a solid, workmanlike job, and the film is well shot by veteran DP Joseph MacDonald. Fox presents The Dark Corner in a good transfer (1:33.1 OAR) from an acceptable but a little rough source-print, with audio in remastered 2.0 mono and remixed 2.0 stereo tracks. Extras include a knowledgeable commentary by noir scholars James Ursini and Alain Silver, the film's theatrical trailer, and bonus trailers. Keep-case.

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